Bruce Turner In Profile...
Bruce Turner slowly approaches Mount Washington Alpine Resort, the yellow Bobcat he’s driving chugging slowly but steadily through the parking lot. He climbs out, his long hair tucked into a toque, and ambles into the Alpine Lodge.
He orders a coffee at Fat Teddy’s Bar and Grill like he’s done it hundreds of times before, trading banter with the servers and a table full of groomers.
Turner is at home at Mount Washington. He’s been a fixture for 11 years, having arrived more than a decade ago to ski and spend some time in his trailer at the former RV Park. Except he’s never left. And now he’s virtually indispensable as caretaker at the Resort.
Turner was a marine mechanic living in Campbell River when he first started skiing at Mount Washington. He moved to Campbell River to try and get hired on at the mill, so he would have a decent retirement package. But that never happened. “Whatever retirement I have is the RRSPs from here,” he says. “I hope I can just slow down here and not really retire, just fade.”
When the RV Park closed, after Turner had been there for about four years, he offered to do the jobs that other people didn’t want to in the hopes they would let him stay. Resort staff found a place for him to put a trailer; they appreciate having someone staying on the hill overnight for security reasons, and Turner likes the mountain culture.
In the winter he works in dry stores, keeping track of food and paper supplies. In the transition season before summer, he gets out in the gardens and puts the playground out.
“I call it putting summer out and putting winter away,” he says.
Gardening was something he fell into, and discovered he enjoys it. “It’s all sort of an experiment, gardening at this elevation. I don’t get to put many plants out until June.”
Turner sets his own timetable, working when he wants to, and taking time off to get out in the outdoors mountain biking or fishing when he doesn’t. He averages 40 hours a week and is never far from his cellphone – he’s even taken calls from staff while fishing in the middle of Dragon Lake near Quesnel.
He still manages to ski 30-40 days every winter. He considers himself semi-retired. “I’m a recluse,” he admits. “I live alone up here with my cat, Smokey and I’m happy like that.”
As Turner walks back to the Bobcat to continue cleaning up the courtyard, he is asked if he could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be? He answered readily. “I haven’t found anyplace better than this.”